BN Prose: Tolani’s Favourite Room
Why does this always happen? Why do I feel like this? It cannot be normal, can it? Here I am again on the seat made of wood that’s always warm, with the big hole in the middle of it, in the smallest room in the house with the tiled walls and the opaque window embossed with an ivy pattern (pushed open). I have artificially fragranced the air so intently I feel like choking but better the artificial fragrance – hibiscus and lotus flower – than any natural aromas my body might produce. Of course there’s also the electrically operated air freshener (Venetian orange flower) that squirts out scent every thirty six minutes into the back of my head all adding to the mix.
To be honest I like this room, it’s nicely decorated with pretty jade coloured tiles that have a geometric pattern which is aesthetically soothing and a couple of pictures of seascapes on the wall, sometimes I imagine what the temperature of the water must be in the clear seas depicted, probably tinglingly cool. My mother has always had the finest of taste in all things décor related, she watches enough home improvement programmes, reads enough housekeeping magazines and has enough time and plenty of dad’s money to cultivate such a taste. There are amusing short story books on the shelf behind me none of which I have ever read; whenever I’m in this room, with the good acoustics, I stare at the door which has a handsomely shaped silver handle with a matching silver sliding lock, and use the time to cherish my isolation. I usually don’t want to mar my seclusion by filling my head with any one else’s thoughts or words but right now I need to stop thinking. Uncontrolled thinking is what brought me running in here. I reach behind me for a volume somewhat inappropriately titled: ‘How to Throw the Perfect Dinner Party’, especially considering where I am at the present time. After flipping through the pages and not actually taking anything in I replace it.
Instead of maintaining an inner calm or at the very worst having pleasant butterflies in my stomach I get nervous, horribly nervous – things tense up and constrict inside and then I just have to go.
It’s been eleven months now and I still can’t shake the nerves. Nothing is going to happen that hasn’t happened before, one would think that by knowing what to expect I’d be quite comfortable by now however in my case one would be very, very wrong. I mean I could always just not go, just stay here all locked away and alone in a small tiled world of man-made fragrance and running water but that would be just silly wouldn’t it? I mean what excuse could I give after being the one to plan the whole thing? This time around it was my suggestion then imagine me calling with thirty minutes, oh god, just thirty minutes left and cancelling. Everyone would start asking me questions and wondering why I hadn’t gone but most especially they would be wondering why I didn’t want to come out of the toilet. I wonder who would be first to come knocking? Probably mum. She’d give a tentative knock at first, ‘Tolani, are you okay in there?’ she’d say, ‘Yes, I’m fine,’ I’d say with a forced brightness. Then she’d depart for a while till it was time for me to have left. She’d come back again and would maybe have dad in tow, this time the knock would be firmer. ‘Tolani, honey, is something wrong?’ you would be able to hear the worry in her voice. ‘You’re not vomiting your guts out are you?’ Dad would say. Mum would berate him, ‘Of course not, Tolani would never do anything so passé and European as to have an eating disorder. ‘Sweetheart, what’s going on? Shouldn’t you have been on your way by now?’
Then I would say in a very calm voice to reassure the folks, ‘Actually today I have decided to remain in the toilet. I like it in here. I will not be going out anywhere to see anyone ever – it’s just better this way, I hope you understand.’
Of course they wouldn’t understand. I’m trying to understand. What is so bad about going out on a date with my boyfriend that it cripples me with nerves and sends me rushing to the loo just before I’ve planned to meet him? Why aren’t I excited? Thrilled? Complacent even? We go out, we talk, we have dinner, see a movie, have drinks or go dancing then we go back to his place and we do it, sometimes three times or twice (although as far as my folks are concerned he drops me at my friend Blessing’s house) then I come back home in the morning. Where in any of these actions is there room for me to be so uncomfortable? It’s surely what other people who are in a relationship do isn’t it? So why would I rather stay in the toilet? Dapo is gorgeous, my friends think so, the family like him, it isn’t like he’s proposing marriage, he isn’t violent or aggressive, he’s a great dancer, dresser and very charming yet it’s getting harder each time to build myself up to see him. It is as though I have to put on a different robotic persona on autopilot to be around him and I like that persona less and less. Having a boyfriend should not be such a trial. Yet I feel like I have to maintain it for everybody else or they’ll all get upset and unbalanced. Mum would probably cry – she loves Dapo so; my best friends would ring my phone off the hook wanting to know if I’d lost my mind, for why else would the supposedly best looking girl in town break up with the most eligible guy in town? On paper we are the ideal couple. Yet and yet…
Well I guess I’m done in here.
Flush. Spray, spray, spray, pull panties up, unlock door, go wash hands, dry them, spritz more perfume on, grab purse, slick on lipstick, pull on shoes, walk down stairs.
“Bye mum, bye dad, I’ll see you in the morning.”